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Technical Oops

Just a quick technical note. If you subscribed to the QT Blog via email and are getting THIS feed instead, please re-subscribe to the QT Blog at The email link on the QT Blog site was pointing here. I double-checked the code and tested it, and it now works properly. Sorry for any inconvenience!

Contests and Other Industry Happenings

I'm going to try to blog a little more often here, and today I just want to give you a heads-up on some contests you might be interested in joining!

  • Dec. 15 - Jan. 15: Firebrand Query Holiday.  Rather than queries, the Firebrand literary agency is soliciting first chapters for one month. Want to submit?  Check out Firebrand's website. If you Twitter, one of the agents, Nadia Cornier, is posting updates on how many submissions they've received, read, and requested.
  • Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award contest. Search for an unpublished novelist who deserves to be launched into a career. Novel submissions happen February 2 - February 8.  Be sure to check out the FAQ!
  • If you haven't discovered Miss Snark's First Victim yet, it's about time.  Authoress posts frequent contests, including ones in which a secret agent critiques the first few paragraphs of  your novel.  She will be running one of these Secret Agent: Are You Hooked? contests in January, along with a First Chapter Crit Fest. More details when she posts them!
Everyone have a safe and happy New Year's!

Subscribe via Email & the QT Blog

I've added a Subscribe via Email link to the blog.  Sorry that took so long, I'm embarrassed to admit I didn't realize how popular it was to read blogs that way.

I also want to let you know about another writing site I'm now a part of: The Blog.

If by some chance you haven't visited yet, what are you waiting for?  It's the site for finding literary agents and tracking submissions to them.  I used it to find my agent.  I also blogged about it when I first found it, and I love it more now than I did when I found it.  It's free, though you can buy a premium subscription for extra features.  (I don't get a kickback if you start using QT, it's just that awesome.)

Along with four other fun, wacky women and the master sitebuilder himself, Patrick McDonald, I'll be blogging several times a week on hot topics like important industry news (including agent contests and announcements), hot writing and publishing tips, a soon-to-be announced QT Blog contest, and ways to use, QueryTracker Forum, and RallyStorm to help you become a better writer, find an agent, and get published!

Funnies for the Jingle Bell Chain

What with the holidays being so busy, this go-round the blog chain is doing a "Jingle Bell Chain" in which everyone just posts on the topic of their choice.  Mary did a beautiful job talking about what a great boon online writing friends can be that I've been stymied on what to post.

Tonight, it came to me.  You know that sometimes I post "timewasters" because...well, just because I end up doing silly timewasting things online when I should be writing.  So in the spirit of the holidays, here are some holiday funnies from my favorite timewasting websites. is probably my all-time favorite timewaster.  It's filled with user-captioned photographs of funny cats (though there is a sister site for "hot dogs".).  Part of what makes it so funny is that the pictures are captioned in LOLspeak, which is like a combination of Engrish and baby talk.

Some of them are writing-specific. has a sister site with funny graphs:
For obvious reasons, I also get a kick out of psychology humor.

Last but not least, I'd like to offer something I found a while back that always makes me smile.  I like speculative sf/f, but sometimes it's tough to explain the subgenres to people who aren't into that particular genre.  I thought this was a great explanation for steampunk.

Happy holidays, everyone!

We're posting out of order this time, so be sure to check out the posts of everyone on the chain.  Part of mixing it up was linking to different people, so in addition to Mary (above), be sure to check out the person who comes after me, Heather.

Archetype Updates

Finally, I've had a little time to update the Archetype site with some great new articles!  Happy Holidays, everyone!

7 Personality Characteristics You Need to Get Published by Carolyn Kaufman, Elana Johnson, and Suzette Saxton
Agents and editors deal with hundreds of queries, synopses, proposals, and chapters every month. Whether you realize it or not, your approach to the process has a lot to do with whether or not your work will ever reach publication. Here are the 7 characteristics necessary to achieving your dreams!
The Reluctant Writer by Pamela White
Since the age of 9, I've been a writer. I loved telling a story, dreaming up new ideas, places and people, and rereading what I had written. I just never wanted anyone else to read it...

Rejection - Is Your Book Really THAT Bad? by Aaron Lazar
Rejection tears at the thin fabric in which we cocoon with our fragile writer's ego, protecting the inner belief that our work is valid.

Pitfalls of the Aspiring Author - Common Mistakes You Must Avoid by Umm Junayd
As a publisher, I have received numerous queries and manuscripts from writers seeking publication, but there are some things that aspiring authors always seem to get wrong...

Creating Believable Villains Who Are Worthy to Fight Your Protagonists by Vicki Hinze
You must make your villains credible, logical, believable and understandable, but not likeable. You want your villains to be real, three-dimensional people. You want the reader to understand what they're doing, why they're doing it, why they believe their actions are just and rational but you don't want the reader to become so empathetic with the villain that he/she loses empathy with the hero/heroine and starts cheering for the villain.

Essence of Character - Seven Steps to Creating Characters that Write Themselves by Corey Blake
Creating characters that are believable takes time and discipline. Creating dynamically real individuals and not imposing your own thoughts and impressions upon them is not easy to do, and is often the difference between a novel or screenplay that sits in a closet and one that finds its way around town and into the hands of audiences.

Sharpen Your Writing - Choosing Strong Verbs by Charlotte Rains Dixon
Have you ever read a novel and been impressed with the originality of the author's use of verbs? One of the hallmarks of good fiction is the use of strong, original verbs. Yet how does one go about finding these verbs when our daily lives are most often assaulted with weak variations of "to be" from every angle?

Fiction Writing: Getting Your Events In Order! by Steve Dempster
Many writers make mistakes when they describe two things happening simultaneously...

Short Story Writing -- Don't Waste Your Words On Wasted Words! by Steve Dempster
The short story market often demands tight word counts from the writer. Here are some tips on how to keep that word count under control!

Top 7 Ways to Ruin a Perfectly Good Manuscript by Lucia Zimmmitti
I'll bet you've grown weary of writing coaches telling you how to fix your work-in-progress. Ready to break the monotony? Here are some guaranteed ways to ruin a perfectly good manuscript!

Writing Skills - Become a Collector by Charlotte Rains Dixon
The best writers are collectors. They gather ideas and snippets of this and that as they go through their daily life.

Writing Rituals and Routines by Pamela White
When I was offered my first ongoing writing position, I never thought about having a schedule for my writing time, unless procrastinating until the last minute was a plan...

Improve Your Writing Habits Now by Melinda Copp
Writers sometimes develop poor habits, and end up doing more thinking about writing than actual writing. I know, because although I write for a living, and I still don't always spend enough time on the writing that I most want to do.

Strengthen Your Writing With Three Self-Editing Tips by Melinda Copp
When you want to ensure your written communications are professional and clear, knowing these three self-editing tricks can enhance your prose.

Writing as Wish Fulfillment?

This time, Sandra Ulbrich Almazan picked the blog chain topic:

What is the role of wish fulfillment in fiction? What personal wishes do you want your stories to fulfill? Are they the same ones you want to read about?

Though I'm sure there's some wishing involved in my writing, I don't think that's my main purpose in writing. I think I write more to express different facets of myself.  But that's not what this blog topic is about; this blog topic is about what kinds of wishes might sneak into my stories.

Like Elana, I'd love to have some special powers.  When I was a student, I always thought it would be fun to be able to move things with my mind -- wouldn't that totally mess with the teacher?  Now that I am the teacher, I think it would be fun to be able to move things with my totally mess with the students.  I can't tell you how many cell phones would be flying out of people's hands as they attempted to text.

From time to time I enjoy reading (or writing about) a romance, but I enjoy it more if it's about a woman who's as strong and capable as the man, so I suppose that tells us something about the types of relationships I wish to have.  I enjoy the romance even more if it's part of a paranormal/urban fantasy -- yep, the ones with the inevitable tattooed and sword-wielding but sexy badass on the cover. And what kind of wish might that fulfill?

You know, I think the wish is to get published and have my very own badass on a cover that would be a dream come true!

I have just not done justice to this topic.  If Mary hadn't done such a good job with it, I might have talked about Freud's theories of wish fulfillment.  Fortunately, Michelle comes after me in the chain, and her post is awesome!

Archetype Site Update

Hey everyone, just in case you're wondering when I'm going to update the Archetype site again, the answer is....SOON. It can be tough to find quality articles to share with you, and there's been a bit of a dry spell. Add that to the NaNoWriMo craziness last month, and I got a little behind.

The good news is that I will have some time to do updates later this month, and a small group of talented writers is working on producing some new articles for you. If you have suggestions for articles you'd like to see, please feel free to leave a comment letting me know!  You could say something broad like, "I'd really love to see some new articles on characterization/plot/publishing/creativity/etc." or something more specific like "Have you thought about writing an article on which personality qualities help people get published?"  Either way, I love article suggestions!

Some people have also asked about the Archetype Newsletter. I stopped doing the newsletter several months ago because it took a long time to prepare. The number of subscribers just wasn't enough to justify the amount of time and energy it took me to create. As a tradeoff, I decided to put more time and energy into blogging. The nice thing about the blog is that you can subscribe to it and keep an eye out for updates in your RSS feed reader.

If there's anything about the newsletter you particularly miss (jargon, for example), please also feel free to leave me a comment about that; I can make an effort to include things like that in site updates.

How to Help Save Publishing

The economy is terrible right now (I know, duh), and it has been especially hard on the publishing industry, but HL Dyer created the graphic at right to remind us all not to panic. 

And there is something you can do to help -- buy a book. 

Before you decide that you have a perfectly good library right around the corner, remember that writers who someday hope to publish need the publishing industry!  And you can help insure that publishing will still be there, looking for great manuscripts, when you're ready to submit...just by buying a book.

So buy a book!

Consider asking for books from family and friends who need suggestions; also consider buying books for everyone on your shopping list!

Need some suggestions?  Check out BookEnds agent Kim Lionetti's holiday shopping suggestions.

I read all the time, and I try to keep my AllConsuming list (at left) updated so you can see the kinds of great books I've found.  I've also hand-picked the best psychology and writing books for writers and put them all in one place for you.  Among them are books that helped me find and win over my agent, the magnificent Kate Epstein; books that give me ideas when I'm running out; books that give me hope when I'm ready to give up; and the psych resources I use when I'm writing!

Today's Timewaster: Geek Level

I'm blaming this one on Janet Reid too. I think she posts these so writers like me will play on the internet rather than writing and bugging her. ;-)

75% Geek

Created by OnePlusYou - Free Dating Sites

What I Learned from NaNoWriMo

Well, I did it.  I'm a NaNoWriMo 2008 Winner.  That means I wrote (and proved I wrote, though admittedly, it is still an honor system) over 50,000 words as part of a story/novel between November 1 and November 30th, 2008. 
Actually, 1667 words (or more!) a day is very long as you can figure out what's happening next!  Here are some things I learned from my first NaNoWriMo.
  • Forcing yourself to write that many words that fast is a good exercise.  When I started this, I made a personal goal to write 20,000 words in a month's time.  You see, I've been stalled on my writing, and after writing a mere 5000 words in October, it seemed nothing short of masochistic to try to write 50,000 words in a month.  So I decided I'd do my best to write 20,000.  And after I wrote 20,000, I wasn't read to give up, so I kept writing.  And lo and behold, I kept finding words.
  • It's fun to have a little bar graph to show your progress.  It may be silly, but watching the little blue bars get taller each day was an incentive for me.  I'm never quite sure how long a novel is going to be when I write it, but perhaps a progress meter with a guesstimated final wordcount would be a good idea for me. (On the other hand, having to update a progress meter by changing the code is a pain in the neck.  Maybe not.)  Do you all use progress meters?  Do you like them?
  • Don't stop writing just because it's hard. The first 15,000 to 20,000 words I wrote for NaNoWriMo were hard. The last 10,000 were excruciating. But I didn't give up. Stephen King says, "Stopping a piece of work just because it's hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don't feel like it, and sometimes you're doing good work when it feels like all you're managing is to shovel s*** from a sitting position." (On Writing)
  • The notecard approach is helpful. I have never been a subscriber of the notecard approach, which is, in short, to write plot points on notecards and then organize them as you see fit. But when I decided -- two days before NaNoWriMo was to begin -- that I was going to try this, I sat down with some notecards and threw every plot point I had in my head onto one of those cards. Though the system broke down a bit at the end, it was helpful overall, and I can see myself using it again.
  • How to beat Writer's Block.  I never watch youtube clips when people embed them in their pages, but I promise you, this is worth it, because he's right.  And because if you do what he tells you, you will break through your writer's block.  I know.  I was desperate enough to do what he says.

Now, the million dollar question -- would I do it again?  If I had a story idea that I thought could sustain and entire novel...absolutely!

Here is my question for you, though.  What is up with the people who just stop writing at, like, 50,038 words and never touch it again? Was it really just about the 50,000 words?!

Edit: Here are the final stats from NaNoWriMo: Nearly final tallies! 119,401 Authors participated in NaNoWriMo 2008 & there were 21,683 verified winners! Congrats to all! 18% winning rate

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